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CUMULATIVE GIVING - FOUNDATION LEGACY SOCIETY RELIGIOUS LEADER LEVEL

Fr. Kevin O’Dell

Fr. Kevin O’Dell entered the seminary right out of high school but left after six years, unsure about what God was calling him to do. He pursued an academic career, building an impressive academic resume. He has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Philosophy, Master’s degrees in Social Work, Education and Theology, and has a double Doctorate in Education and Psychology. He was a principal and superintendent of schools, both public and Catholic, in Iowa and Omaha where, because of his background in counseling, he primarily worked with young people who were struggling in traditional programs. His work often extended beyond the school because of his ability to work with troubled youth. When he was 47, O’Dell says the thoughts of becoming a priest were strong enough that he went back to the seminary. “There was always in the back of my mind that knowledge that God was probably calling me to do this.”  He has now been a priest for nearly 20 years. Fr. O’Dell is the campus minister for both Augustana and the University of Sioux Falls in addition to being pastor of St. Therese Parish. He also continues to work with people as a licensed counselor, often working with people who struggle with addictions. He is open about his own battle with alcoholism and has been in recovery for many years. “I know the horrible costs addiction can have on a person’s life. Unfortunately, in most cases, unless you’re an alcoholic or a drug addict, it’s hard to get another alcoholic or addict to listen to you. They’re going to say, ‘What do you know about it?’ There’s so much woundedness there.” Father has worked extensively in AA and in a variety of treatment facilities as a priest, and still goes to AA meetings regularly, not because he’s afraid he’ll drink but because it gives him an opportunity to practice serenity and sobriety and to also be of help to others. The majority of Fr. O’Dell’s time, however, has been spent working with young people in the school setting or in community organizations or agencies. “The young people are not the future of our church, they ARE the church. They are filled with such hope and idealism and such goodness. It’s a life-giving ministry to be able to work with them and see how they can pick up the ball and run with it. I’ve always felt a special calling to work with young people, both as a teacher, counselor and principal.” Fr. O’Dell says there’s never been a day since he was ordained that he has not truly loved and enjoyed what he does. “There are some days that are hectic, but I knew when I made the decision, sold my possessions and went back to the seminary, I knew that was the right decision. And that’s never wavered since then. I enjoy parish ministry, I enjoy school ministry, but what I enjoy most is being able to watch people embrace their faith and do quite astounding things.”

Members of the RELIGIOUS LEADER LEVEL are honored for their cumulative gifts since 1987 of $750,000 - $999,999. Gene, Jr. and Cynthia Jones Kevin and Peggy Kirby Pete and Madeline Pederson U

PREMIER Bankcard, Inc./First PREMIER Bank Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital, LLP Jim and Angie Soukup

St. Mary Parish The Gas Stop - Tom and Melissa Howes U Denotes deceased

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